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Double glazing salesmen was self-employed

Newsletter issue - September 2017.

Employment status tax cases often make the headlines in the professional press and the June 2017 case of Tomlinson was no exception. In this case, the First-tier Tribunal found that a double glazing salesman (Mr Malcolm Tomlinson) was self-employed and not an employee as he had claimed.

As with most employment status cases, this case focused on the details of the terms on which Mr Tomlinson was engaged with the company.

Many facts of the case pointed towards a self-employed status, including the fact that there was no written contract in place and Mr Tomlinson was not required to give notice of leaving. He was paid on a commission-only basis and did not receive holiday pay, sick pay or pension contribution payments. He provided his own car, mobile phone and other equipment. However, many other factors emerged which tended towards employed status. These included authority to sign initial customer contracts on behalf of the company; an expectation for working in the company showroom approximately two days a week; an expectation to complete a holiday request form; appearances in company advertisement; and an expectation that Mr Tomlinson would not work for competitors.

The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) worked its way through various factors which have historically been used to determine employment status cases. Such factors include control, equipment, financial risk and payment terms, personal service and exclusivity, mutuality of obligation, benefits provided, integration within the company's business, and intention.

In concluding its review of the overall effect of all such factors, the FTT found that the details of this case did not clearly point towards either employment or self-employment. However, looking at the overall picture, the FTT's view was that Mr Tomlinson was in business on his own account and was not therefore, an employee. The FTT concluded that it was decisive that both Mr Tomlinson and the company intended and believed that Mr Tomlinson was self-employed and had operated on that basis for almost 25 years.

As Mr Tomlinson had not discharged the burden of proof showing on the balance of probabilities that, during the period in question, he was employed under a contract of service, the decision that Mr Tomlinson was self-employed stood good.